July 22, 2010
While Josh Johnson was snubbed of another lead to the hands of the bullpen (for the fifth time this season, to be exact), Emilio Bonifacio and Ronny Paulino came through in the clutch. Bonifacio's lead-off triple placed a runner in prime scoring position to set up Paulino, who blasted a single into the outfield to secure the 3-2 victory. Just three nights before, Donnie Murphy gave a walk-off two-run homer to provide the Fish with a series opening victory against the Rockies. Paulino's single sealed the series closer with the same outcome.
Unfortunately, the Marlins still have a steep climb towards to top of the N.L. East and Wild Card races. As of this writing, the Marlins are nine games behind the Atlanta Braves for the division lead and five games behind the Rockies for the Wild Card.
But the Marlins can only worry about themselves at this point. Win streaks and series wins are the only way to fight their way back into any kind of playoff race, regardless of the teams above them. It is not until the Fish come within striking distance of either race that they can worry about having other teams stumble in the standings.
For starters, the Marlins should look to surpass the .500 mark as a short-term goal. Once achieved, they can then set higher goals for themselves.
And if they wish to make a dent in their own division, the upcoming home series versus the Braves (July 23-25) and Philadelphia Phillies (August 3-5) will be crucial. There may be an entire half of baseball still to play, but the climb back into contention must start now.